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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  August 16, 2018 12:30am-1:00am BST

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after the motorway bridge collapse. five million euros will be freed from central funds following the disaster, which left 39 people dead. rescuers say around 15 vehicles are still under the rubble, but there's little hope of finding more survivors. in afghanistan, there's been a suicide attack at an educational centre just west of the capital kabul. at least 48 people have been killed, scores of students were injured. and this story is popular on bbc.com. scientists beleive they've discovered why some vegetables, including cabbage, broccoli and kale can reduce the risk of bowel cancers. they says anti—cancer chemicals are produced as the vegetables are digested. that's all. stay with bbc world news. now on bbc news, hardtalk. stephen sackur speaks to iranian political analyst, professor mohammad marandi. welcome to hardtalk,
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i'm stephen sackur. when iran's president rouhani was convincingly re—elected in last last year, iranians seemed hopeful their living standards might improve. well, they haven't. inflation, poverty, water shortages and corruption on a host of measures, things that appear to be getting worse. now iran is again facing us sanctions after president trump walked away from that nuclear deal with tehran. my guest is iranian political analyst professor mohamed marandi. is iran on the brink of an economic and political crisis? mohammad marandi, in tehran, welcome to hardtalk.
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thank you. there is a time delay on this line, but nonetheless, my first question is a simple one. there was a lot of hope around the re—election of president rouhani last year. it seems to have evaporated. why? well, obviously there are a host of difficulties that exist in iran, mostly economic. the dissatisfaction that exists in the country, according to polls, is focused on jobs and inflation. but we have to take into account the fact that the united states has not abided by its side of the bargain in the nuclear deal.
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when the iranians signed on to the nuclear deal, and gave significant concessions, they did this in order to ease tensions and to prevent the united states from continuing to have an excuse against iran, and the americans were supposed to abide by their side of the bargain, and they didn't. under obama, they didn't. the united states in violation of the nuclear deal, they imposed new sanctions. the treasury imposed sanctions on companies and individuals and new laws were passed by congress, the visa restrictions laws as well as the renewal of the iran sanctions act. all of these were in violation of the nuclear deal. in fact, iranians, despite the fact they signed on to the agreement, weren't able to send money out of the banks nor bring in money. you've chosen in that answer to direct much of your response toward donald trump and his policies
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toward iran, but i cannot but help notice, looking at the wave of protest, the unrest that we see filmed on social media and put online by iranians in various towns and cities, and we've seen it at the end ofjuly, we've seen it through the course of the last eight or nine months in various towns and cities. the chants go like this, we've got "death to khamenei", the supreme leader, we've got "death to rouhani", "death to the dictatorship." they say things like, "leave syria, think about us instead." "death to the islamic republic, and "shame on the mullahs." these are the things many iranians are saying on the streets right now. well, stephen, you have to keep in mind that in iran we have very regular elections and elections in iran have very high turnouts. in fact, president rouhani was elected with a turnout of something like 73% or 74%. so the legitimacy of the political institutions in the eyes
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of the people is very high in the country. the fact protests happen in iran is not extraordinary, but i would like you to keep this in mind, that unlike in western countries, where, for example, in the riots in london in 2011, where social media was being used by the rioters, or the protesters, or whatever you'd like to call them, the british government had the cooperation of blackberry, of facebook, of twitter, the people who instigated the riots, two young men, they were sentenced each to four years in prison in the uk, and five or six people were killed, over 3,000 to 4,000 people were arrested, and they were universally condemned. in the case of iran, you have a host of persian language foreign media outside the country based in the west, some of them government—owned,
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like the british and american governments, some of them funded by governments that are almost universally inciting violence, for carrying out information warfare, trying to create a sense of depression and hopelessness among iranians 2a hours a day. professor marandi, surely the anger we see on the streets in those protests and the sense of dissolution, they're not some sort of western inspired conspiracy, they're the product of things like inflation right now is rampant, some calculate it at running over 200% if one takes into account the plunge in the value of the iranian currency. look at unemployment rates, look at the shortage of water, look at a whole host of different issues which are affecting the everyday lives of iranians. it's no western conspiracy to say
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iranians are thoroughly hacked off with life under this regime. well, i would say that the same sort of terminology regime that you use is a sign of how, in the west, iran is looked upon and has historically been looked upon. for almost a0 years now, iran has been a regime, and from the false narratives we see in the west, a regime that is illegitimate, that is violent, that is unpopular, that is corrupt and that is about to implode. i've been hearing this since i was a teenager and so far we haven't seen this happen. in fact, the unresolvable paradox here is that on the one hand iran is a regime that is about to implode or explode, and on the other hand it's a growing menace to world peace and stability. so it's a growing threat, according to the narrative,
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but it's also corrupt and collapsing. you can't have your cake and eat it too. the fact on the ground is that in iran, you have people that protest, and they are legitimate protest, and there are grievances but on the other hand there are external forces who have been trying very hard to turn legitimate protests into riots. it's very well documented, it's not some conspiracy, it's a reality. we'll get back to iran's external policies later, because you make an interesting point about how the west see them, but let's stick with internal issues for a while longer. no question, the us reimposition of sanctions, i'm sure you'd agree with me, is a factor in the deterioration of late in the iranian economy, not least because it's affected the value of the rial in a very effective way,
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the currency has plunged i think 50% in the last few months. here's and something your foreign minister, za rif, tweeted after the announcement of the reimposition of us sanctions, he said, "the world won't follow donald trump's impulsive tweeted diktats." he said, "just ask the eu, russia, china and dozens of our other trading partners." it seems iran was very confident that all the other signatories to the multilateral deal would continue their commitment to an open economic relationship with iran despite the reimposition of us sanctions, but it's not working that way, is it? i wouldn't agree with that assessment. i would say that the world is changing. i would say the united states has shown itself to be unreliable by tearing up an international commitment. it has shown itself to have no respect for european countries. basically trump, by tearing up the agreement, has told the british, the french and the germans that you abide by my diktats
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and you follow my orders. and the europeans either have to abide by us demands or they have to grow a spine. my point is simply that a host of european companies, for example, i could quote you daimler, total, maersk, the shipping company, or peugeot, all of these companies have either abandoned plans or really rowed back on plans to invest or put new monies into their iranian ventures because of the power of the us economy and the signal sent from washington that any business is now doing deals with iran will come under very close scrutiny and suffer consequences from the united states. the power of the us economy is something you guys seem to have underestimated. i don't think anyone in iran underestimates it. the fact that trump is behaving like a mafia boss is nothing to be
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proud of, and it's nothing to be proud of when a country is ordered by the united states not to co—operate with another country. that's what i was trying to say. iran is in a hole, and we can see it from the plunge in your currency to the abandonment ofjoint—venture deals and european investment. we can see it in the oil business, we're about to see it more in the shipping business as well, because let's not forget, phase one of the reimposition of sanctions came on august 7 but more expansive sanctions are going to come in in november. you can talk about the morality of it, you can talk about the rights and wrongs of it, but in the end the iranian economy is in a very deep hole. the iranian economy is definitely going to face difficulty, it is facing difficulty and it will continue to face difficulty in the months ahead, but i assure you that iran will persevere.
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we've gone through greater difficulties. in the 1980s, when the united states was helping saddam hussein, giving him... and the europeans by the way, giving him chemical weapons to use against the iranians, we survived. we were alone for eight years, one of the few countries that actually supported us was syria. we survived the chemical attacks, i survived two chemical attacks, our country survived the war. we've gone through much worse. the current administration is going to go through difficulty. they've made significant mistakes over the past two months, they have to rectify those mistakes. but without a doubt, after a few months, the economy will stabilise and, as i said, it won't be easy, nobody is claiming it will be easy but this is something that's been unjustly imposed on the iranian people. the americans want to crush the iranian people, they want to humiliate the iranian people and that's simply not going to work. you call it crushing, the americans would say a fundamental realignment of iran's foreign policy is in particular.
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it's interesting, is it not, mike pompeo, when he talked about the strongest sanctions in history being imposed also pointed to the 12 us conditions that would see those sanctions lifted and, in essence, if one gets to the heart of it, they demand that iran completely end the significant bulk of its nuclear programme, they end further ballistic missile development, end support for groups like hezbollah and the houthis in yemen, and conduct a complete withdrawal from syria. now, i suspect you're going to tell me absolutely none of that is going to happen, but in that case, iran is going to face indefinite and extremely punishing economic consequences. well, first of all, there are a host of countries that will continue to co—operate with iran, especially asian countries. and i think across the world, people are recognising
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that the united states is behaving in a dangerous manner, using the dollar, using financial institutions as weapons, and this is something we're now seeing being used against turkey and that's going to continually isolate the united states. of course, the united states is still a very important power, but what i'm saying is the world is changing as well. iran will not be able to change its foreign policy because iran's policy in syria and iran is what prevented isis from coming into iran. not only did iran stop the extremists that western governments helped create with the saudis, look at the intelligence agency document of 2012. the most important military intelligence organisation in the world, the pentagon, stated from early on in syria the dominant militant forces were the extremists and they would create a salafist entity between syria and iraq. and the regional regimes that were allied to the united states were supporting this.
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and then general flynn later on in an interview admitted... he was the head of that organisation, he admitted the united states took a wilful decision to help its regional allies do this. what was the group that later made a regime between syria and iraq? it was isis. the united states helped the extremists. how can you stand back and allow syria or damascus have the black flags raise over them ? you may make that point, i'm more interested in what this means for iran. there's no question, it's quite obvious that iran's strategic commitment to its support of the assad government and its own military presence in syria is long—term, but it is also extremely expensive. one of the most respected experts on mid east politics and diplomacy, nadim shehadi, he reckons that it could have already cost iran up to 100 billion us dollars, all of its military and political commitment to the assad government
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since the war started. add to that the billion dollars or so every year that tehran spends on hezbollah in lebanon. add to that the cost now of iran's involvement in yemen as well, it comes back to what is sustainable and what is not sustainable in the context of the economy that we've discussed today. are you telling me that iran's foreign policy is sustainable in economic terms? stephen, let's not talk about yemen. yemen is... there's a starvation siege imposed on the people of yemen by the saudi government without the western countries. western countries are helping the saudis starve the yemenis, they're helping the massacre and slaughter of the yemenis, and western governments are implicated in crimes against humanity. their leaders have blood on their hands. the canadian prime minister,
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who's had a fallout with the saudi government, was a very good enabler of saudi war crimes. if i may say so, professor marandi, i'm not trying to discuss the rights and wrongs of the yemen wall, and believe me, we put on the spot saudi officials, us officials, uk officials, for their responsibilities when it comes to yemen, but my point was a very direct one. you tell me that the iranian government will not in any way change its foreign and external policies. i put it to you that iran increasingly is going to find those policies unsustainable economically. no, i was trying to respond. first of all, the country is surrounded, yemen. iran cannot help yemen. if it could, it should. when it comes to syria and iraq, the international institute for strategic studies is by no means connected to iran. they say that iran's military expenditure is 19th in the world. iran spends less on its military than saudi arabia, than the israeli
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regime, than turkey, than iraq, than the united arab emirates, with a population... with a passport—holding population of1 million. either your numbers are incorrect or the international institute for strategic studies, whose job it is to monitor military spending, is nonsense. i've been to syria nine or ten times over the past seven years and i've never seen such huge amounts of money being spent in syria. it's the united states who's spent trillions of dollars in wars in iraq, destroying iraq, destroying libya, helping the saudis destroy yemen, and to a create a dirty war in syria. they're the ones who have created this mess. let's bring it back to what's happening inside iran. you haven't tried to dispute with me that economic times
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are tough, there is anger on the streets, we've all seen it. it's interesting to me that certain politicians, i'm going to name one, former president ahmadinejad, are making calls for president rouhani to go and to go now. and even supreme leader ali khamenei has talked about gross management which he saus is now afflicting iran. it does seem, and i know you don't like all this talk of hardliners against moderates and reformers, but it does seem, in the current context, as though the hardliners are making a concerted effort to regain complete political power in tehran. well, stephen, i'm glad you acknowledge that in iran we have different political parties with different political perspectives that argue with each other and carry out public debates, because that's not the sort of narrative we here in the west. what we usually hear about iran is usually similar to what we hear about saudi arabia or
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the united arab emirates, where there are no politics, there's just a dictator who makes the decisions. yes, president rouhani, his position is not as strong as it was before, obviously, but he has the legitimacy, he's the president of the country, he was elected, the leader supported him in his recent speech, and of course there's mismanagement in this country. there's mismanagement in your country. right now you're going through brexit and everyone is saying theresa may has made a mess of things. within her own party they're attacking the left, right and cente. that's politics. so in iran, when we have politics, it's called some sort of internal warfare. in the west, it's called democracy and checks and balances. maybe one reason... i don't know if it's called internal warfare, but one reason it's seen in a particular light in iran is what we do know and independent human rights groups like amnesty international report this repeatedly, is that those who express dissent, particularly in times of rising tension, which i think we see in tehran today, those who express dissent, whether it be straightforward political or cultural,
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as women fight for greater rights and freedom from oppressive laws, or whether it be religious, with religious minorities demanding an end to discrimination, what we see at times of tension is that more of those dissidents are locked up. and according to amnesty‘s latest report, i'm gonna quote from it directly, "heavy suppression of rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as freedom of religion and belief. the government has imprisoned scores of individuals who voice dissent, trials are systematically unfair, torture and other ill—treatment widespread." that is what happens in tehran when tensions rise. well, first of all, amnesty international is not totally independent. the head of amnesty international
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usa until recently was a person who was very closely associated with hillary clinton and who worked in the state department under hillary clinton. it is based in the west and it is based on western so—called values. i wonder what those are at times. but when it comes to... if you're talking about political prisoners, it would be good to include people like julian assange, who is right now, in my opinion, a political prisoner being held in the heart of london because he's exposed the crimes of the united states in iraq, because he's exposed how hillary clinton used the democratic national committee to cheat her rival, sanders, from being the candidate for the democratic party. and now he's being punished for it. he's been accused of raping two women, falsely accused as far as we know. then you have other examples. you have people like helen thomas, who was the white house correspondent for nine administrations. professor marandi... you will have the right to question what happens in other countries, but in a format such as ours it's more useful, i think, if you respond to my direct questions about what's happening
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in your own country. when you see the level of repression in tehran today, do you, yourself, as an academic, as a man who knows the freedoms that come with academia and the need for freedom of expression, do you not worry about the curtailment of freedom of expression in iran today? come on, stephen, you just, a few minutes ago, were saying how the different political factions and the hardliners and the reformists and the moderates are all out at each other‘s throats, and what is that all about? because there is a freedom of speech in this country. there are arguments and debate. surrounding us, you have us troops in the persian gulf, you have us troops in
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iraq and afghanistan, you have the united states constantly threatening the country, you have western countries funding groups carrying out psychological warfare, if you have thousands of mek, former terrorists, you know them very well yourself, i'm sure, who fought for saddam hussein, many of them are in albania, they're paid trolls, they are constantly carrying out, through multiple online personas and different accounts, psychological warfare against iran. and then, when the united states indicts 13 russians for, what was it, creating political discord in the united states before the presidential elections because of a few facebook ads? this is double standards. the reality on the ground is that iran, despite the antagonism, and despite the hostility that's coming from western powers, is much more free than any of the us allies in this part of the world. all right. mohammad marandi, i thank you very
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much forjoining me from tehran. hello there. we're looking at quite a changeable spell of weather, really, over the next few days, with some rain around. we'll certainly get some rain as we go on through the next 2a hours. the satellite picture shows a band of cloud pushing in across the united kingdom today, and this is rain—bearing cloud. now, we have seen three bands of rain that will tend to merge together into one as it moves its way across england and wales as we go on through the next few hours. so there is some rain on the way to some of us.
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if you're out early in the morning, a lot of cloud for england and wales, with bursts of heavy rain swinging across western wales, into the midlands and central and southern england. a lot of cloud added to that, and it will feel humid, a fresher feel in the north—west. a lot of cloud and widespread, frequent heavy thundery showers as we go through thursday morning. so, the forecast through thursday. 0ur band of rain that will spread into east anglia and south—east england, as it pushes further eastwards it would tend to weaken at times. the rain becomes a little bit lighter as it swings into kent. further north and west, a cloudy morning coming up for scotland and northern ireland, with widespread heavy and at times thundery showers, a breezy day as well. sunny spells between those showers as we head through the afternoon, less widespread in northern ireland and a bit of sunshine for wales and south—west england later in the day too. for friday's chart, we've got another area of low pressure steaming in off the atlantic. this one is going to be bringing
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a belt of heavy rain into northern ireland, there will also be some rain for western scotland. after a dry and sunny start to the day across eastern counties of england, it will cloud over by but should stay dry and quite a gusty day, with gusts up to 30 mph in the north—west along with that band of rain. now, temperature—wise, we're looking at highs of 16—18 degrees across the north—west, temperatures near average in london, highs of 23. now, looking ahead to the weekend, we have got some warm weather on the way. it's going to be quite breezy, the driest weather towards the south—east of england, particularly on saturday. this area of low pressure has the remains of sub—tropical storm ernesto and that's going to be bringing a belt of heavy rain that will probably be working in across northern ireland and scotland through sunday. so, in a bit more detail, across northern parts of the uk, scotland and northern ireland, likely to pick up a belt of very heavy rain on sunday. further south, meanwhile, we'll probably have drier conditions on saturday, but still the threat of rather cloudy skies on sunday,
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with some patchy pieces of rain especially in the west. that's your latest weather, bye for now. glad you could join us. i'm rico hizon in singapore. the headlines: italy declares a state of emergency in genoa after the motorway bridge collapse kills at least 39 people, but some amazing stories of escape. people were running, screaming in italian, "run, out!" "0ut, cars, out, cars!" "cars!" so we just literally... "kids, run, run," because we didn't know what was happening. in afghanistan, a suicide attack at an educational centre near kabul kills at least 48 people, most of them teenagers. i'm kasia madera in london. also in the programme: who killed the half brother of north korea's leader? two women charged with his murder discover if their trial will continue. and crazy rich asians, it's the first hollywood movie in 25
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